Wednesday 29 July 2020



Presenting Evan Tanner - the first series character created by Lawrence Block, best-selling author of A Walk Among the Tombstones.

Ever since a shred of shrapnel did a number on his brain's sleep center, Even Tanner has been awake 24/7. This gives him more time than your average underachiever. Time to learn the world's languages (he's fluent in Basque, but has trouble with Chinese). Time to embrace the world's lost causes and irredentist movements (The Flat Earth Society, the League for the Restoration of Cilician Armenia, the Society of the Left Hand). Time to write term papers theses for students with more money than knowledge. And, most important, time to do his dreaming while he's wide awake. 

Phaedra Harrow, nee Deborah Horowitz, is an occasional companion of Tanner's, albeit a determined virgin. She goes off on a bargain-priced world tour - and Tanner later learns that the tour's a bargain for a reason: the London-based wanker-in-chief accepts only unattached female travelers, takes them halfway around the world to Afghanistan, and cheerfully sells them into white slavery. Next thing you know Tanner's on his way to pre-Taliban Kabul, where, you won't be surprised to learn, many interesting things happen. And that's just the beginning... 

Tanner's Virgin was originally published as Here Comes a Hero, the title supplied by some ninny at Fawcett. What were they thinking? Anyway, here it is, back again in all its glory...

Six down two to go and another Evan Tanner adventure enjoyed. This one back in late sixties Afghanistan, after a stop-off in London for some sleuthing on the trail of a young American virgin. After being sold into slavery, she's retained her youthfulness but not much more.

I wonder whether Block had some sort of crystal ball beside his typewriter back in the day, as we have a few pesky Russians plotting and poking there noses into the country about ten years ahead of schedule. Fair to say they don't actually vibe the legendary American spy, Evan Tanner's presence in their theatre of operations.

Dating, virginity, frustration, family worries, a London investigation, a violent death and on the run again, a boat trip, Russians, man overboard, France, Kabul, Russians again, a proposed revolution, slavery, a road trip, a few near misses, a rescue, a virgin turned nymphomaniac and a bit more besides.

Another fun outing. I do find it interesting that he knocked six of these Tanner books off in a remarkably short period of time, 1966-68 and they are all extremely entertaining and readable and prescient in respects of nationalism, ethnicity, identity, culture, borders, boundaries, tension, conflict, uprisings and a fluctuating political landscape. I kind of wonder what Tanner would make of a 2020 map of Europe, compared to 50 years ago.

4 from 5  

Previously enjoyed - The Thief Who Couldn't SleepThe Canceled CzechTanner's Twelve Swingers, The Scoreless Thai and Tanner's Tiger. Two more to go. (One now actually)

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 1968
Page count - 206 (5 hrs 14 mins)
Source - Audible purchase after down load code received from David, one of LB's assistants
Format - Audible


  1. Tanner really does sound like an interesting character, Col. And what an interesting time/place context for telling the story, too. Interesting, too, how Block seemed to have some prescience there. I've heard that about other authors, too, and I think it's fascinating.

    1. I think you might enjoy dipping into this series somewhere along the way, Margot